Monday, August 13, 2007

Living Virtuously

To help illustrate the importance of virtues, this past Sunday, we played an interesting game during the worship service. The game is called Life Boat. The most well known version of the Life Boat game appeared as a classroom exercise in the 1972 book Values Clarification: A Handbook of Practical Strategies for Teachers and Students by Sidney B. Simon, Leland W. Howe, Howard Kirschenbaum.

These teachers based the game from a true life experience dating back to the 19th century when a member of the crew of the ship William Brown was tried for voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of several passengers. When the ship (bound for Philadelphia from Liverpool) hit an iceberg and sank off Newfoundland, 80 people tried to get into 2 lifeboats. 30 people (mostly children) didn't make it. 42 were in the longboat, 8 were in the jolly boat. The jolly boat, having sails, was rescued quickly. But bad weather threatened the longboat. Not only overloaded, with waves coming over the side, but it was leaking too. When the mate shouted to lighten the load, Holmes and another sailor starting tossing people over the side: six men and two women. The next day, two more men. After the ship was picked up near France, the survivors urged that the sailors be prosecuted for murder. Holmes happened to be the only in town when the Philadelphia grand jury brought an indictment. In court, Holmes offered a necessity defense. He was found guilty, sentenced to six months and a $20 fine. He served his time but was pardoned by President John Tyler, and thus did not have to pay the fine.

How comfortable are you determining the fates of others? Having and understanding what informs our ultimate decisions is one of the goals of living virtuously.

If you missed the game on Sunday, you can play it now.


A passenger liner is wrecked at sea and these 15 people find themselves together in a lifeboat. The lifeboat however, can only support 9 people. If six are not eliminated everyone will die. You cannot make up your own rules and must follow the rules of this game. If you were in command of the lifeboat, whom would you choose to survive?

You are required in-groups of 2 to reach a joint decision as to which passengers will be eliminated.

1. A general practitioner doctor. He is addicted to drugs, and very nervous, Aged 60

2. A black Minister, Protestant, Age 27

3. A prostitute, no parents. She is an excellent nurse. Has already saved a drowning child. Aged 36

4. A male criminal. Charged with murder. He is the only one capable of navigating the boat. Aged 37

5. A man mentally disturbed, who carries important government secrets in his head, aged 41

6. A salesman. He sells automatic washing machines. Member of the local Rotary Club. Aged 51.

7. A crippled boy, paralyzed since birth. He cannot use his hands, or do anything for himself, so must be fed by others. Aged 8.

8. A married couple. He is a construction worker, who drinks a lot. Aged 27. She is a housewife with two children at home. Aged 23

9. A Jewish restaurant owner married with three children at home, Aged 40.

10. A teacher considered one of the best in Bergen County! Aged 32.

11. A Catholic Nun. Supervisor of a girl’s school, Aged 46.

12. An unemployed man, formerly a professor of literature. He has a great sense of humor, showed courage in the last war, and was in a concentration camp for three years, Aged 53.

13. A married couple deeply in love, but no children yet. Both Irish. He is studying to be a pharmacist. Aged 24. She is a housewife, helps with a playgroup. Aged 21.

Please write down the 9 who will survive and why you chose them.

If you missed the sermon that followed this game, you can find it by navigating your browser to

No comments: